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So... I've been pretty sick. I am mostly better now, though, so I finished up the end of this chapter! I wanted to get it all finished before I start on my fics for [ profile] khrfest, and actually I wanted to get it done earlier, but for a couple days I couldn't do much thinking. I'll be working on those fics now, though.

Ordinary World (7/12)
Katekyo Hitman Reborn
Mukuro-centric, some 8069, 8059, 6918
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Tsuna sat on the edge of his bed, watching Reborn sleep in that weird little hammock he liked to use. He envied the baby's ability to fall asleep instantly anywhere. Everyone else was definitely asleep by now too, but Tsuna often found it hard to fall asleep these days, head full of worries about his friends or the mafia or school or, more often now, what in the world he was going to do with Mukuro.

After Mukuro's collapse earlier that day, it was obvious he hadn't come to trust them at all. It frustrated Tsuna. He didn't know what to do anymore. It wasn't that it surprised him, not really - Mukuro didn't have much experience trusting people, as far as Tsuna knew. It was more that, despite Mukuro's attitude and occasionally questionable morals, Tsuna still felt like he deserved a chance from someone. He hadn't forgotten the vision of Mukuro in Vindice that he'd once had.

But Mukuro seemed to do everything he could to keep distance between himself and everyone else, no matter what Tsuna - and others - might want.

He sighed and laid down, making himself comfortable. He'd talk to Dr. Shamal in the morning - maybe take him to see Chrome, that might help. What else could he do?

Even with that in mind, Tsuna expected to toss and turn for hours. He closed his eyes.

Within seconds, he was asleep.


Tsuna dreamed.

He was in his room still, but Reborn was gone and the sky outside wasn't dark. Sitting at his desk across the room, writing furiously, was Mukuro. Tsuna sat up, letting the blanket fall from him, and padded across the room to look over his shoulder.

Mukuro was writing in Italian, but it was as clear as day to Tsuna nonetheless. It was all plans, maps, ideas - a path to his goals, the destruction of the mafia and the plunging of the world into war.

Mukuro laughed, turned the chair to look at Tsuna. His eyes were bright, his face more full of life that Tsuna had seen it before. "Don't you see?" he said, smiling angelically. "This is who I am."

"No," said Tsuna. "Can't you change? Do you really want that?"

"Change, change, change... it's always the same thing from you silly Vongolas. Why do I have to be the one to change? Why don't you do it?" Raising his hand, Mukuro touched Tsuna's cheek, just the barest brush of fingertips. "I can't change if I don't want to. And you can't change the world just by being nice, Tsunayoshi." His voice dropped to a whisper, imparting a precious secret to Tsuna. "It takes blood."

Tsuna felt wetness on his cheek, saw the blood dripping from Mukuro's hand. He stepped back and caught sight of himself in the mirror above his dresser, Mukuro's bloody fingerprints on his cheek.

"It'll be your fault too, you realize," Mukuro said. "It would be so easy... so easy to make you think I've changed. And then the lives I took would be on your hands too. Do you think they'd forgive you for releasing a rabid dog?"

"You're not a rabid dog," Tsuna said. He looked at the paper Mukuro had been writing on before, but it was incomprehensible now, just scribbles and scratches. "You're a human."

"Really? Would the guards at Vindice agree? Or you could ask any of the families I've murdered," Mukuro said. He laughed, his eyes on Tsuna - not blue and blue, the colors Tsuna had gotten used to so quickly, but red and blue. "Of course, you can't. Silly me. They're all dead. How would you explain it to the community, setting a killer free? And how could you possibly think that a normal life like yours could replace the thrill, the satisfaction of killing? You're so adorably naive."

His laugh was wilder, harsher than Tsuna remembered it being. "Your idealism is just what I need, Tsunayoshi." He was close again, his hand tracing Tsuna's neck, and Tsuna hadn't felt so vulnerable in a long time.

"You can change," Tsuna managed to stammer out.

Mukuro leaned in close, so close his breath tickled Tsuna's ear. "I'm really getting tired of hearing that," he murmured. His hand tightened on Tsuna's throat, fingernails digging in, centimeters away from crushing Tsuna's windpipe.

Tsuna woke up gasping for air.


Yamamoto dreamed.

He was in his father's dojo, looking out at the moon over the garden. He thought it was a little strange to be dreaming about watching the moon, but who knew how dreams worked?

Yamamoto turned to Mukuro and said, "It's really bright and full tonight, isn't it? Really beautiful."

Mukuro smiled at him and filled two tiny cups full of sake. "Here. It's traditional, right?"

"I'm not old enough to drink," Yamamoto said, but he was watching the way the loose yukata fell away from Mukuro when he moved. Yamamoto reached out unconsciously, finger inches from Mukuro's pale skin. Mukuro smiled at him.

"You can touch me. I don't mind," he said.

"You don't mind?" Yamamoto said, entranced.

"It's just a body," Mukuro said. "What do I care what happens to it?"

Yamamoto paused, looked at him. "That's not right," he said. "It's your body."

Mukuro laughed. "It's a shell, just like anyone's body. In the end, we leave them behind. But you can't see it that way, can you? You'll never make a good hitman at this rate."

"I don't want to see it like that," Yamamoto said quietly.

"Yes you do," Mukuro replied. "That's why you like me so much. I can teach you how to be more like me." He pushed the small cup of sake into Yamamoto's hand. Yamamoto looked down, and it was the vile green of poison. "It's easy, really. Start by destroying everything inside yourself."

Yamamoto dropped the cup and grabbed Mukuro's thin wrist. "No! That's not why I like you! There's something about you..."

"Oh, that? Isn't that anyone's dream? There's someone you want but can't have. Maybe they don't want you, maybe they're with someone else... maybe you lost your innocence for them and neither of you can forget it." Mukuro smirked. "And then along comes someone who could, potentially, be anyone."

His laugh was cruel this time, made even more eerie by coming from Gokudera's lips. A perfect copy, with a smile on its face that Yamamoto had never and would never see from the real thing.

"You try to pretend you're such a good boy, Yamamoto, but the truth is that you want me to ease your guilt. You want it to be easy. It's not me that you want at all, not the way you want him."

"No," Yamamoto said, but he wasn't sure anymore, not while he was staring at Gokudera's familiar features.

He felt something stick in his throat, and coughed and coughed until he spat out a small gray stone, hearing it clunk against the wood. Mukuro picked it up with long fingers, his own fingers, and laughed again. "Lies will weigh you down."

He moved, pressing Yamamoto against the floor of his father's dojo. The moon was gone, but the stars had crept closer in curiosity, their strange light bright enough that Yamamoto could see the angles of Mukuro's face.

"If you want so badly for me to take your heart, I will," Mukuro murmured. His lips pressed against Yamamoto, and Yamamoto tasted the sour sweetness of a barely ripe orange. When they separated, Yamamoto felt a sharp pain in his chest and looked down. It was a bloody mess, Mukuro's slim hand tearing through skin and flesh, but it didn't hurt as much as he'd thought it would.

Mukuro's lips brushed his skin as he spoke. "I haven't got one of my own anymore, so I might as well take yours." Bones cracked as Mukuro reached further. "I've no clue what I'll use it for, though. Maybe a paperweight."

One last spike of agony stabbed through Yamamoto's body as Mukuro ripped his heart free. He looked down at the bloody hold in his chest, looked up at Mukuro and the bit of Yamamoto he had in his hand.

"You should be more careful what you do with this kind of thing," Mukuro said. "I hear some people think they're important."

He raised the heart to his lips, bit in, and started to chew.

Yamamoto watched, feeling only mild interest.


Gokudera dreamed.

He was in Italy, in the rich rooms of his father's house, a place he never wanted to return to - but this wasn't the first time he'd dreamed of it, nor would it be the last.

He walked the hallways, feet treading on thick carpets. Every once in awhile he had to move to one side to pass a body slumped on the floor or to avoid a spreading bloodstain, but he continued. There was only one place to go.

When Gokudera reached his father's office, he pushed the door open without any of the hesitation or fear he would have felt as a child. Somehow he knew what he'd find, and he did. His father, slumped over the big mahogany desk, blood from the bullet in his temple congealing on some scattered papers. His sister, her throat torn out, laying on the floor with sightless eyes gazing up toward the ceiling.

He let the door slowly swing shut behind him as he moved on.

Up the wide marble staircase, down the hall, and Gokudera arrived at another familiar door. He entered his old bedroom, and once again found exactly what he expected. Mukuro, lounging on his bed, one limp body at his feet and another crumpled on the bed behind him.

"Did you take the scenic route, Hayato?" Mukuro said lightly. "I've been waiting forever."

"This isn't real," Gokudera said.

"Sadly, you're right," Mukuro said, smiling. "But I'm sure you know that I'd like it to be. You're mafia scum, after all. I'd like nothing more than to watch you choke to death on your own blood." His tone was cheerful, conversational.

"I know that," Gokudera growled. He reached for his dynamite, burning to blast the smile off Mukuro's face, but of course it wasn't there. "Even if I'm the only one who cares anymore." He was bitter, yes, bitter that his friends accepted danger and treachery with open arms.

"It's ironic, isn't it? That same merciful quality that gave you a chance gave me one as well. The fool..." Mukuro nudged the body on the floor with the toe of his boot, and all of a sudden Gokudera realized it was Tsuna's.

"Tenth!" he shouted, and clutched his fists in impotence. It's not real, he reminded himself. It was just a dream, somehow he knew that even if it was so vivid, so real. It was just a dream. The real Tenth was fine, he had to remember that.

"Not like this one," Mukuro continued, stroking the hair of the corpse on the bed. "He offered himself to me freely. Romantic, don't you think?"

Gokudera tried not to look at Yamamoto's blank, lifeless face, gritting his teeth and scowling at Mukuro.

"Then again, if this were real, maybe I'd keep him." Mukuro threaded his fingers into Yamamoto's hair and lifted his head. "One can never have too many toys." He kissed Yamamoto's motionless lips grotesquely, and then he looked at Gokudera and laughed.

What else could Gokudera do? He couldn't listen to that voice anymore, couldn't look at Mukuro's smirking face. He turned and ran from the room, ran down the halls, wanting to hurt and kill but knowing he'd never be able to lay a finger on Mukuro, not here.

The mansion seemed to stretch. He wondered if he'd run forever.


Hibari dreamed.

The halls and classrooms of his school were quiet, peaceful - not full of noise and disruption as they normally were. It was relaxing to walk through these silent halls, not a sign evident of the usual herbivores who annoyed him.

Except one. Turning a corner, there he was - leaning against the wall, oh so casual, watching Hibari with those irritating mismatched eyes.

"Kyoya, so good to see you," Mukuro said with a smile.

Hibari gripped his tonfa - always with him, even in dreams. Something wasn't right, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.

His opponent stood up straight, taking a step closer. "Always so cold. You could stand to be a little nicer to the man who beat you."

Hibari didn't say anything, eyes narrowed, trying to grasp that feeling of wrongness. This creature in front of him just didn't feel... right.

Mukuro reached out towards Hibari, reached to touch Hibari's cheek, and Hibari's tonfa flashed out, knocked him away. "You're not him," Hibari said, sure of that if nothing else.

"Of course I'm not,"Mukuro said, but his eyes were sharp on Hibari now. "I'm just a dream."

"Maybe you are," Hibari said as he smoothly moved his tonfa, ready to attack. "But you're not my dream." And he struck, his weapons slipping through the air where Mukuro had just been.

Mukuro - or the Mukuro-shaped dream - turned and ran, and without a second thought Hibari ran too. He chased the figure through the halls of Namimori, mindful of nothing else, thoughts solely on catching Mukuro.

Ahead of him, the thing turned a corner and vanished, but Hibari didn't stop. He was sure he could still feel traces, and he knew he could catch it (and tear it to pieces, choke its life out), so he kept running - ran as he left Namimori, as the halls of the school turned to mist around him.

He'd find Mukuro and make him pay.

Hibari ran through the thick gray mist, not tiring, a predator on the hunt. At first he barely noticed as the scenery changed around him, but it became too glaring, too dangerous to ignore. He was somewhere he'd never seen before, and how was that possible in his own dream? His footsteps slowed as he surveyed his surroundings carefully.

It was some kind of lab, cold and sterile with shining steel equipment. The light was low, though, making everything look dark and murky and dirty. Hibari stepped around an operating table, noting leather straps bolted to it, stained here and there with something dark.

There was movement in a corner. He approached it without fear, tonfa at the ready, but it was nothing - just a small boy shivering, trying to hide himself in the shadows.

The boy looked up with terrified eyes at the sound of Hibari's footsteps. More like a wild animal than a human, he shrank back as if he thought Hibari would simply not see him if he hoped hard enough.

Lowering his weapons slightly, Hibari looked down at the boy. "Where is this place?" he asked, keeping his voice low and even. It would do no good to spook the child, already so frightened.

"Don't bother," a cool voice said from behind him. "He's useless."

Hibari did not enjoy being snuck up on, no matter how rarely it happened. He whirled, bringing his tonfa up again, and heard the child behind him make an incoherent, fearful noise. What he saw made him pause for a moment, though, stop himself from launching an all out attack.

It was Mukuro, the red eye made that obvious, but younger than Hibari had ever seen him. He couldn't be older than nine or ten, and he was scrawny enough that Hibari would not have been surprised to learn he was even younger than that. He looked up at Hibari with exactly the same look that his older self would, though, that infuriating blend of smug interest and boredom. His trident, held in one hand, was much taller than him.

"What are you doing here?" Hibari said. It wasn't exactly the right question, but the others all seemed wrong too. Hibari knew, though, that this wasn't the Mukuro he had been chasing before - it didn't feel wrong.

"I should be the one asking you that," this young Mukuro said, and smiled in exactly the way Hibari remembered seeing so many times on the real one's face. "You're not supposed to be here."

"There's no reason for me to dream about something like you." It was true. Why would Hibari dream about this? His dreams were never so strange, were never all that memorable at all. This one was so vivid, incorporating images he'd never seen or thought of.

Mukuro laughed, now, and it was exactly the same, too. The quirks and habits of a killer in the body of a child - Hibari thought he probably ought to be more disturbed than he was. "You think this is your dream?" He looked at Hibari for a moment, then shook his head with a smile. "Come with me."

For some reason, Hibari followed the boy out of the lab. It felt more like a dream now, when he couldn't quite control what he was doing - the kind of dream he'd wake up from and think, what the hell was that? He'd had those before, and occasionally with Mukuro in them, too.

He followed Mukuro down a hallway strewn with bodies. Blood decorated the walls and floor, and the boy stepped over them without a care. Hibari did so as well, and before he knew it they were somewhere else, somewhere he recognized this time. Kokuyo Health Land, the run down building where he'd first met Rokudo Mukuro.

And where he met him again. Because there was Mukuro, the real Mukuro, turning to face Hibari and the boy as they entered. This one felt right, like the boy, and looked just like the Mukuro Hibari knew, tall and arrogant and adult - or like Mukuro once had.

It wasn't until Hibari looked at this Mukuro that he realized how the one he saw nearly every day had changed. Mukuro here, in this dream, was vibrant and alive, not pale and drawn. There was no cast on his wrist, no illusory blue eye. He was Mukuro, in a way that the real one wasn't quite anymore.

"Kyoya," Mukuro said with a smile, and Hibari realized the boy was gone. "How interesting to find you here."

"Why am I dreaming about you?" Hibari asked bluntly.

"Well, you're not, anymore. I'm the one dreaming about you, now." Mukuro laughed and motioned for him to sit, gesturing to a chair that Hibari was certain hadn't been there a moment before. Hibari did not sit.

"I followed you here," Hibari said, and scowled. "This is the stupidest dream I've ever had. I just keep dreaming about you."

"I have to say I'm flattered, Kyoya, really," Mukuro said, laughter lurking just behind his words, and Hibari tried not to think that it was actually not so bad to see Mukuro looking alive again. "You followed me all the way into my dream. If I didn't know better, I'd think you liked me." He sat down himself, getting comfortable. "But since I do know better... I'm impressed, Kyoya. You shouldn't be here at all."

Hibari was getting annoyed. Mukuro might love talking around things, but Hibari considered it a waste of time and energy. "Spit it out, or I'm leaving."

"You couldn't," Mukuro said. "You're in my dream, you can't leave until I let you go. You should be careful with this kind of thing, Kyoya. It could be dangerous if you wander into someone else's dream - someone who's not quite so fond of you as I am."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Hibari said, on the verge of losing his temper.

Mukuro seemed to realize that, and relented, though his smile pissed Hibari off just a little bit more. "Like I said, I'm impressed. You have no powers like mine, but apparently you were angry and stubborn enough to find your way into my dream. I'm sure it was just a fluke, but still - congratulations. You were chasing one of these, I assume?" He glanced down at the floor, and Hibari followed his eyes downwards.

On the floor was a copy of Mukuro, exactly like the one Hibari had seen, down to the slight feeling of wrongness. That was exacerbated by the fact that this one's neck had been neatly snapped, and it seemed to be slowly disintegrating, its edges turning misty and disappearing bit by bit.

"They're constructs sent by someone else. Another illusionist, but he wasn't as good as I am... well, as I was. As you can see." Mukuro smirked down at the body with the same face as him. "He also wasn't all that smart, sending one to attack my dreams. He ought to have known another illusionist would be able to spot a construct like that in a second. And even without my powers, these are still my dreams - my territory. It's nearly impossible to beat me here."

Hibari wondered if he ought to be bothered that Mukuro had apparently found it extremely easy to murder a copy of himself. Instead, it made him smile just a tiny bit - Mukuro might be the most irritating person he knew, but even like this he was one of the strongest. Hibari badly wanted to fight him again, and wondered just how 'impossible' it might be.

"Don't get that look, Kyoya," Mukuro said with an amused smile. "You really couldn't beat me. I control everything here." That was true enough, Hibari supposed, remembering how a chair had appeared out of nowhere. He'd have to wait for his rematch in the real world. "Anyway, I'd rather talk. If a dream construct like this was sent to you as well, I wonder who else might have seen them? And not everyone is like you, I don't think they'd notice anything wrong - they'd just think they were having a particularly strange dream."

"Why?" Hibari asked, feeling some actual curiosity. What point would there be to something like that? He didn't think even Mukuro could kill someone from within their dreams.

Mukuro shrugged. "I don't know. I suppose I could have tried to torture some information out of the one I got, but constructs wouldn't offer much anyway... maybe they're trying to get information, or scare people. Or maybe they're trying to inspire distrust." He looked at Hibari, eyes sharp. "The one you saw looked like me, too. Maybe they all did."

"Maybe we're all cursed with stupid dreams about you," Hibari said. "That really would be evil."

For a moment Mukuro looked surprised, and then he laughed. "You always surprise me, Kyoya. Coming here at all... well, you really shouldn't have been able to. I'm not sure how you did it, except by pure cussed stubbornness. But you can't stay - you need to wake up. You might not remember all this, but do at least trying to remember some of it, won't you? And pass it on. Even if Tsunayoshi will have no idea what you're talking about, Reborn should. It might give him some clue to who's doing all this."

"I have no desire to speak to Sawada," Hibari said, but he guessed he'd do it anyway. Not for Mukuro, but because this whole thing made him angry. Someone who invaded his dreams ought to be torn apart by wild dogs, or bitten to death.

Mukuro seemed to understand that, and didn't say anything more about it, though he smiled a little. "I have no idea when I'll wake up. In here, I'm strong, out there - well, someone is trying to kill me very subtly, and they seem to be succeeding." He shrugged as if he didn't care, but Hibari caught a split second of anger, or maybe even fear, crossing Mukuro's face. "So it's actually kind of nice to see you, Kyoya, since I can't leave my own head anymore." His smile was a little bitter, but more real than Hibari would have expected.

"Hm," was all Hibari said. It wasn't as if the feeling was mutual or anything - Mukuro pissed him off most of the time, and he was not interested in nice little midnight chats. With him or anyone.

Though this was not quite so bad as it could be. He hadn't seen Mukuro like this since the first time they met.

"Fine, fine," Mukuro said, laughing again. "I guess that's my cue to let you go. He'll show you out." Hibari realized that the boy, the younger Mukuro, was next to him again, looking up at him with clear eyes.

He nodded, wondering if he ought to say something to Mukuro - a farewell, or something. But that wasn't really Hibari's style, and so he just turned to go. Before he could follow the boy out, though, Mukuro's voice stopped him.

"Oh, that's right. Kyoya... I forgot to thank you."

Hibari looked back at Mukuro, eyes narrowing. "What?"

Mukuro didn't smile, just meeting his eyes. "For taking me to the infirmary."

Oh. That. Hibari scowled, unwilling to give Mukuro any ridiculous ideas. "Sleeping in supply rooms is against school rules."

He left with Mukuro's soft laughter in his ears, and steadfastly ignored the smile on the smaller Mukuro's face, following the boy down twisting hallways again, hallways that changed from broken-down building to laboratory to stone passageways and back again.

"This is where you came in," the boy said finally, stopping in the room Hibari recognized. The other child still cowered in the corner, and Hibari glanced in that direction, wondering what was buried in all these strange corners of Mukuro's mind.

"Don't," the young Mukuro next to him said quietly. "There's nothing that can be done about that one anymore."

Hibari looked down at that strangely familiar face, so certain and so cool. He couldn't exactly argue, and didn't know if he would have anyway. Finally, he just nodded.

Mukuro smiled at him, and pointed. "Go that way. And please try to remember some of this." His eyes flickered away, to the operating table and the boy in the corner. "But hopefully not all of it."

The direction Mukuro had pointed seemed to trail off, misty and gray, and Hibari set off without another look back. It was strange, to be in someone else's dream.

He walked through the grayness with no sense of time, and the vivid clarity of the conversation he'd had with Mukuro, the things he'd seen, slowly faded.

By the time Hibari woke up, it had become just an odd dream.

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